As Covid-19 vaccinations continue across Britain, many people hope the easing of restrictions will begin within weeks. Some are looking forward to lockdown ending by spring, as vulnerable groups including over 80s and then over 70s are vaccinated. However, evidence suggests this might not happen and that millions of Brits will be disappointed.
Even the Prime Minister has not ruled out COVID restrictions lasting way beyond the spring and well into summer. The vaccinations are completely new and tested over a matter of months rather than years. As a result, even scientific experts know very little about how effective they will be in providing long-term immunity. Also, little is known about transmission to others after receiving the vaccination and whether those immunised will still carry and transmit the virus.
Extending the time between vaccine doses
The government recently decided to extend the time between the two doses of vaccine to three months instead of three weeks. According to some experts, this could be a costly mistake. There have already been reports of people getting infected between the first and second vaccination.
The original instruction from the vaccine manufacturers was that the second dose should be several weeks after the first. However, the government has decided it would be better for everyone to have a little protection as soon as possible rather than older people and vulnerable groups to have full protection while millions of others have none.
While many understand the reasoning behind the decision, not everyone believes the plan will work. Professor Herb Sewell of Nottingham University recently said he believed vaccines should be administered as intended by the manufacturers. He added the additional nine-week delay could result in the loss of more lives and a far less effective vaccine.
He recently wrote, “Worse, I think it carries significant dangers, because a weak immune response – as reported in patients after only one dose of mRNA vaccine – could encourage new, vaccine-resistant strains to evolve.”
Risk of transmission
Much is unknown about the Covid-19 vaccines, and one of the crucial unknowns is whether it will stop transmission. With tens of millions of people yet to receive their first doses never mind their second, huge swathes of society will remain at risk of contracting the virus if lockdown is lifted in the spring.
With so much uncertainty about whether those vaccinated can still transmit the virus, the country could end up going around in circles. In addition, experts are unsure about how long the vaccination protection lasts – and they do not know whether it will protect against the variety of mutations and new strains that keep arising.
Meeting vaccination targets
Government officials in the UK were quick to use global media and announce to the rest of the world that Britain was the first to approve the vaccine in December. However, when it comes to administering the vaccination, it is a whole different story. While ambitious targets are in place, the supply of vaccines could present a considerable problem.
Of course, there is also the issue of a lack of trust from the general public. Much fear has been spread about the vaccines, and many have said they do not intend to be vaccinated. Recent examples that have been highlighted include the South Asian population showing increased reluctance to have the jab. If the uptake of the vaccination wanes, it could present a real issue in curbing Covid-19.
There is no doubt that many people are pinning their hopes on the vaccination rollout to provide the nation with its former freedoms. However, many issues suggest the outcome might not be as successful as hoped.